Feds Won't Block Merger Involving Seattle Weekly

The way is clear for Village Voice Media and New Times to combine into a 17-paper chain of weeklies.

The federal government has declined to intervene in the merger of New York-based Village Voice Media, which owns Seattle Weekly and five other publications, with Phoenix-based New Times, which owns 11 weeklies—clearing the way for the two companies to become one as soon as paperwork is complete.

In a routine notice on the Web site of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the merger was listed Wednesday, Nov. 23, as among proposed deals that neither the FTC's Bureau of Competition nor the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice would challenge, based on paperwork filed by the two companies on Oct. 24, when the merger was announced.

Said Village Voice Media CEO David Schneiderman, in an e-mail to employees Monday, Nov. 28: "We expect to close in about a month or so. The work on integrating the two companies will accelerate, but we will still be functioning as separate entities until the closing."

Village Voice Media is owned by investors represented by Goldman Sachs, Weiss, Peck & Greer, and Trimaran Capital Partners. CEO Schneiderman is a former Village Voice editor and publisher. Besides Seattle Weekly and the Village Voice, Village Voice Media owns LA Weekly in Los Angeles, OC Weekly in Orange County, Calif., City Pages in Minneapolis, and Nashville Scene. The Voice began publishing 50 years ago and is considered the pioneer of the so-called alternative-weekly format. Seattle Weekly was founded in 1976.

New Times, in business since 1970, is largely owned by CEO James Larkin and Executive Editor Michael Lacey. Fourteen percent of the chain is held by a Boston investment firm called Alta Communications. New Times owns Phoenix New Times, Westword in Denver, SF Weekly in San Francisco, East Bay Express in Oakland, Calif., the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Miami New Times, New Times Broward-Palm Beach in Florida, Riverfront Times in St. Louis, and The Pitch in Kansas City.

Larkin will serve as CEO of the new Phoenix-based company and Schneiderman will head the combined chain's Internet operations, based in Seattle. Lacey will be executive editor of all 17 newspapers.



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